Tabor softball claims KCAC title over Oklahoma Wesleyan

The Tabor Bluejays needed one win to clinch at least a tie for the KCAC title in the doubleheader with Kansas Wesleyan University on Friday in Hillsboro.

The Coyotes spoiled the party in Game 1 with a 3-0 win over the Jays, but Tabor earned at least a share of the title with a 7-3 win in Game 2.

As it turned out, Okla­homa Wesleyan, running No. 2 in the KCAC, split its doubleheader with McPherson Sunday to make the Bluejays the sole champions

In Game 1 on Friday, one bad inning from the Bluejays was all Kansas Wesleyan needed to gain the advantage and ride the back of Megan Krause to the 3-0 win.

Krause battled Tabor starter pitcher Madison Byrd pitch for pitch for the first three innings until the Coyotes manufactured a run on a squeeze play and then got a two-run home run drive in the three runs they would need.

Byrd (15-7) pitched a complete game. She allow eight hits and one walk while striking out 10 Bulldogs, but it was the inability of the Bluejays to come through in clutch situations that determined the outcome.

Tabor stranded the bases loaded twice, including with one out in the bottom of the seventh.

In the second game, Tabor finally broke through in the second inning, taking advantage of Coyote errors to score the first Bluejay runs of the day.

Brittany Vankonynen­burg led off with a ringing double to center, moved to third on a bunt by Madison Primrose and scored on an error off the bat of Raegan Ternes.

After a walk to Dani Calder and a wild pitch, Raegan Ternes scored on a another error, allowing Taylor Kathler to reach. Calder then scored on a wild throw attempting to catch Kathler stealing second. Vankonyn­enburg went 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored.

In the fifth inning, the Bluejays used timely hitting, small-ball and heads up baserunning to extend their lead. Kerri­gan Travens led off with a walk and Hannah Jones followed with a single. Chelsey Knight, running for Travens, advanced to third on a bunt by Vankonynen­burg and slid under the catcher’s tag to score on a sacrifice squeeze by Sierra Becerra.

Jones moved to third and Becerra, seeing no one at second base, moved into scoring position. Byrd followed with a solid single to left to score both tunners. Ternes then capped the scoring for the inning with a double down the line in left. Ternes was 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.

Winning pitcher Jones (3-2) was outstanding on the mound for Tabor. In six inning, she allowed only six hits and two earned runs. Byrd pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning in relief to end the game.

Tabor finished the regular season 25-18 and 17-5 in KCAC play. will be the top seed in this week’s KCAC tournament. —Tabor College

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